Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2018 (Battle 14): J. Cole vs. Evidence

We have our opinions on the best releases of 2018, but rather than simply tell you our pick for #1, we thought it would be more interesting to hear what you, the readers, believe is the Best Rap Album of 2018. With that in mind, we decided to make our Best Rap Albums Of 2018 list a living breathing conversation, that would ultimately lead to you, the readers, choosing which album is the best of the year. Throughout December, we will pit albums against one another, battle style, and your votes will determine the winners.

We’ve chosen 15 albums that we think represented the best Hip-Hop of 2018. Inevitably, we left off some LPs that you believe should be included, so, we held a wildcard round (with a write-in option) where readers picked the album they feel most deserved a spot on the list.

The bracket-style competition among the final 16 albums has begun. Each weekday, albums will face off against one another. In each case, voting will close after 24 hours. We will go from the Sweet 16 to the Elite 8 to the Final 4 to the Championship Finals, with one album emerging as the victor. The second and last Final 4 matchup is between Evidence’s Weather Or Not and J. Cole’s KOD. Only one can reach the championship round. Make sure your opinion is heard and gets counted (click on your album’s artwork in the box below, then click “vote”).

J. Cole – K.O.D.

(defeated Mac Miller’s Swimming, 55.5% to 45.5%)
(defeated Phonte’s No News Is Good News, 50.1% to 49.9%)

Jermaine Cole has been displaying his self-exploration in plain sight for nearly 10 years now. Each album formulated by the Fayetteville, North Carolina MC/producer has essentially been a verbal diary, meticulously detailing his pilgrimage through both the music industry and his understandings of existence. K.O.D., Cole’s fifth LP, finds him at his most enlightened, concerned, and transparent chapter to date. It bears a title serving as a triple entendre (Kids On Drugs, King Overdosed, Kill Our Demons) is cloaked in the severe dangers of addiction, ego, and greed. King Cole meets kiLL edward (an embodiment of his former stepfather) to sort through the effects of drug and alcohol dependency (“The Cut Off”), infidelity (“Kevin’s Heart”), the selfish pursuit of wealth (“ATM” & “Motiv8”), the inability to assess insecurities and ultimately face those personal demons (“FRIENDS”). What makes Cole’s decisive cautionary tale that is K.O.D. so powerful though, is that he seemingly comes to terms with his own self-inflicted shortcomings while simultaneously cautioning his peers and fans about the destruction of theirs. Without self-awareness, administered advice falls on deaf ears, and for an artist that has already hung their hat on unapologetic authenticity so intently, Cole finds even more strength in his sentiments throughout K.O.D. because of how mindful he is about the repercussions of his own tendencies. K.O.D. is both therapeutic and instructive in a time when honest leadership from a respected veteran was absolutely critical. Cole knew this, and K.O.D. is his grand contribution to the overall well-being of the music industry. Without vanity, Cole has demanded that all parties listen closely and choose wisely. – Michael Blair

Released: April 20, 2018
Label: Dreamville/Roc Nation/Interscope
Guest: kiLL edward
Producers: self, Ibrahim Hamad, BLVK, Mark Pelli, Ron Gilmore, T-Minus


Evidence – Weather Or Not

(defeated Pusha-T’s DAYTONA, 67% to 34%)
(defeated Black Milk’s Fever, 80% to 20%)

In a year when many of the year’s splashiest releases were defined by brevity, Evidence delivered a robust, 16-track composition in Weather Or Not. The fourth solo LP from the Los Angeles, California MC marries the gracious with the glib, with themes of perseverance, accomplishment, sadness, integrity and mortality. With guest spots from Styles P, Rapsody and Khrysis on one song (“Love Is A Funny Thing”); heat from Alchemist, who hopped on “Sell Me This Pen” alongside Mach-Hommy; to fellow Dilated Peoples Rakaa and DJ Babu; and one of the year’s best guest verses, courtesy of Jonwayne on “To Make a Long Story Longer,” the album is stellar. Its brightest moments, though, shine through with Evidence performing solo. As he spits on the LP’s opener, “I’m at my best when I’m back into the factory,” he’s both boastful and merciful. On the title track, he’s cheekily self-referential and on the DJ Premier-laced “10,000 Hours,” in prideful stride. “Throw It All Away” may embody Weather Or Not‘s DNA most acutely: “Out the gate a bit late, but the champ is back / I need a third hand to wear my rings and hold plaques.” He saved the true poignancy for the album’s closer, however. On “By My Side Too,” he celebrates his late life partner—as she was battling Stage III breast cancer—as well as his son, who was born during the recording process for Weather Or Not. As he told Ambrosia For Heads earlier this year, “The reward of being an open book is way more tremendous. There’s a bigger purpose to it.” – Bonita

Released: January 26, 2018
Label: Rhymesayers Entertainment
Guests: Rakaa, Alchemist, Slug, Defari, Rapsody, Styles P, Krondon, Jonwayne, Mach Hommy, Khrysis, Catero
Producers: self, Alchemist, DJ Premier, Nottz, Budgie, Twiz The Beat Pro, Samiyam

So which is better?

Ambrosia For Heads’ Top 15 Hip-Hop Albums Of 2018 List:

Black Milk – Fever
Black Thought – Streams Of Thought, Vol. 2
Buddy – Harlan & Alondra
Evidence – Weather Or Not
J. Cole – K.O.D
Jay Rock – Redemption
Mac Miller – Swimming
Masta Ace & Marco Polo – A Breukelen Story
Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap
Phonte – No News Is Good News
Royce 5’9 – Book Of Ryan
Travis Scott – ASTROWORLD
Westside Gunn – Supreme Blientele